In a recent interview, I was asked “What was the element that kept my life in balance in a racy world of fashion and style. A world where the accent was seemingly always on appearance and how we present to others.
Sure, I’ve written my fair share of articles/blogs on dressing for success, casual attire etc and that does constitute the bulk of my work. My clients come from all walks of life – men and women who are becoming more aware of marketing themselves as “The Total Package” and this in itself is challenging and fulfilling.
Ah, but “balance”, a word often used as a throw away line and limited to the realms of yoga and meditation. On reflection, there is my sort of balance, the one where each morning, I count and acknowledge all that I am grateful for. A deeper meaning emerges to my styling and from that, my determination to “Give Back”
Perhaps the best way to illustrate this, is by telling you Jenny’s story, a story often lost in the everyday striving for success goals.
She was in her early forties, established, earning a sizable salary, beautiful and intelligent. Funnily enough, her mantra was “ The big C will never touch me” Fit, healthy eating plan, everything going for her, until the fateful day of a routine mammogram… She was told she had breast cancer.
It was then she embarked on her long and protracted 5 year journey … partial mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormones.
“Ok” she said with a smile, “ We will get through this”
I became involved with Jenny early on … the chemo was taking its toll. She was sallow, had constant nausea, lost her hair and her smile was waning. It seemed to me that her spirit had departed and locked itself in a deep, dark cupboard. All the while she looked at herself with loathing as her femininity and self worth faded.
It was a long road back, a journey on which I was privileged to travel, bringing balance and reality back into perspective as Jenny’s self esteem began to peep through.
We joined hands as two girls on an adventure of discovery – new ways of applying makeup (Hey, I learned a lot too), lots of laughs trying on outrageous wigs and oh dear, those weird bras that always sat askew!
We shopped and styled and shopped and styled, until we found just the right outfits for her new frame and emerging personality.
As the chemo ended and Jenny moved into the next phase of her treatment, it was with new resolve and a growing confidence. The confidence of a woman powerful in her authenticity and grace. Scarred, yes, but “a woman of substance”
Strengthened and determined, Jenny emerged at the conclusion of her 5 year ordeal with a clean bill of health. Needless to say, she remains my close friend and client. She did return for breast reconstruction and her beautiful hair grew back, albeit her brows and lashes a little more sparse, but hey, that’s why we have brow pencils and mascara!
What fun to restyle again – back to her old and new self.
So you see, it’s not always just about the clothes – It’s about the person and then the role that clothes and self image play in their rehab. Sure, love, family and friend’s support play a huge part, but it’s how we perceive ourselves, how we truly feel about ourselves that is critical in recovery and our interactions with others.
I thank Jenny for the opportunity of walking with her and using the gift I have been given, to give back to her.